Judge Refuses to Block Hawaii Marriage Equality

Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto today declined to issue a restraining order to keep the state's new law from going into effect.

BY Trudy Ring

November 14 2013 6:00 PM ET

Rep. Bob McDermott sought to stop marriage equality from coming to Hawaii.

A Hawaii judge today refused to issue a restraining order to block the state’s new marriage equality law from going into effect.

Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto said the state legislature has the power to define marriage, and the law, signed yesterday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, will go into effect as planned December 2, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports. State representative Bob McDermott, who filed a suit challenging the law, had sought a temporary restraining order to prevent the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

At the heart of McDermott’s argument is a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1998, giving the legislature the authority to reserve marriage for opposite-sex couples, an amendment that rendered moot a 1990s court case that could have brought marriage equality to the island state then. McDermott contended that the amendment only allowed legislators to restrict marriage, not establish a different, more inclusive definition. But Sakamoto said lawmakers have the power to define marriage generally, independent of the amendment.

“After all the legal complexities of the court’s analysis, the court will conclude that same-sex marriage in Hawaii is legal,” Sakamoto said, according to the Star-Advertiser.

“I’m very pleased with the court’s ruling,” state attorney general David Louie told reporters. McDermott did not immediately say if he would appeal.

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